AGM looks back on NHS 70 and looks forward to the future

Patients and members of the public from across North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent came together today to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS and hear of future plans for improved healthcare.

The occasion was the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in common of the North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The event was held at the Bridge Centre in Birches Head.

Werrington GP Dr Alison Bradley, Clinical Chair of North Staffordshire CCG detailed the history of the NHS and outlined the key achievements, from foundation in 1948, to early immunisation successes to the introduction of MRI and CT scans and the development of screening programmes.

She also spoke about recent achievement including the Citizens’ Jury report into improving access to mental health services and ways being developed to improve access to NHS services.

Dr Bradley said: “When I was young my Grandad, who used to have to access healthcare through an insurance stamp, always told me how blessed we were to have the NHS.”

She reflected on her own career as a GP, starting in 1988, and the increased complexity of health needs patients now have and celebrated the commitment and dedication of GPs and other practice staff.

Former Tunstall GP Dr Ruth Chambers, Chair of Stoke-on-Trent CCG, explained the vision for the NHS beyond 70 years and how the development of one commissioning team covering Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire will improve services for patients. She also highlighted the digital healthcare revolution that is giving patients greater control over managing their own conditions and new ways to interact with clinicians.

On social media use she said: “Most of our GP Practices now have Facebook pages and just one good example of how we use Facebook is that recently we asked if there was anyone who could help by sharing their experience of maternity services, suddenly we had over 200 mums and dads offering to help, which is amazing.”

Marcus Warnes, the CCGs’ Accountable Officer spoke of key priorities for the next 12 months, including the aim to begin formal consultation on rehabilitation beds and community based integrated care in October. He also spoke of the need to improve end of life care.

There were questions from the public on a range of subjects including the forthcoming consultation on the Future of Local Health Services, the winter capacity beds at Bradwell Hospital, the systems in place to discharge patients from the Royal Stoke University Hospital as soon as they are well enough to leave, the recent formation of the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, enhanced primary and community care and relations with the voluntary sector. There was also a call for increased compassionate support for NHS staff.

Peter Dartford, North Staffordshire CCG Lay Member for Patient and Public Involvement said: “I am constantly encouraged and impressed by the passion people have for the NHS and that was demonstrated today in the week that we celebrate the phenomenal achievements of the last 70 years.”